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How to Structure Event Attendees in SmartSuite

How to Structure Event Attendees in SmartSuite

10 minutes

March 8, 2023

Recently, a curious question popped up on the SmartSuite community forums that caught my eye—it was all about how we could smartly track events and the folks who grace them with their presence.

Being something of a SmartSuite aficionado at, I decided to put my consultant's hat on to tackle this challenge head-on. Whether you're a seasoned teacher wrestling with student attendance, or just trying to keep tabs on who shows up to your weekly book club, keep tuning in as I guide you through the digital maze of sessions and attendees.

Your Starting Point: Sessions and Student Tracking

The simplest ideas often lead to the greatest innovations, and our fellow SmartSuite community member was on the right track. They envisioned sessions, the cornerstone events, filled with eager students whose attendance we'd love to meticulously log. Their weapon of choice? A multi-select field within a sleek form designed for this very purpose.

Let's conjure up a scene—our dedicated teacher, grappling with the hustle and bustle of a crowded classroom, needs to swiftly check off who's present and who's playing hooky. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, although the multi-select form gets an A for effort, it comes with its own set of hiccups, especially when we peek under the hood at its data architecture implications.

The Multi-Select Dilemma: A Thorny Path

Diving deeper into SmartSuite, we discover the crux of the multi-select issue. It's all fun and games until new pupils waltz in, and older ones bid adieu. Suddenly, updating field metadata becomes a chore resembling those end-of-day admin tasks we all love to loathe—you know, adding and removing options without end.

"Deleting Jeremy from the attendance list? Poof! It's as if he never existed. Historical data? What historical data?" - Frustrated Teacher, probably.

But the plot thickens when we consider that students aren't just names on a roster. We care about them, rife with rich data like enrollment statuses and addresses. And a multi-select field alone? It simply doesn't cut it when you want to paint a comprehensive picture.

A Smarter Blueprint: Unveiling the Association App

The elegant solution calls for a third player—the association app, a conduit between the substance (our events) and their witnesses (attendees). Think of it as a sophisticated middleman—link a student here, a session there, and voilà! You've got a harmonious relationship where you can archive nuggets of wisdom like "what did you learn today?" A-ha moments included.

But hold your horses—what if students themselves became the masters of their attendance fate? Arm them with technology, and they could diligently mark their very own digital presence. Of course, we can be clever with it—limit what they see and leverage their emails for a touch of tech wizardry.

When Trust Is a Must: The Teacher's Quandary

Our observant enquirer had their doubts: could we really entrust students with this digital ledger? Unlikely. And burdening our noble teacher with creating individual records for every Tom, Dick, and Harry would be a travesty to efficiency. Our mission is clear—we have to balance trust and user-friendliness.

The Many-to-Many Relationship: A Fine Dance

Back to the drawing board at SmartSuite Central, we engineer a new dance—a many-to-many relationship waltz. Sessions embracing multiple students and vice versa—now that's a harmonious setup! It helps us dodge the extra baggage of storing additional data on attendance records—neat, simple, and to the point.

Let's paint this in practical colors—a form is born where our teacher fills in the date, selects the students in a jiffy, and... submit! It's a win-win: robust data architecture paired with undemanding user interface. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, as they say.

A Consultant's Final Word: The Architecture You Deserve

I know, it's been a journey—of sessions, associations, and the right amount of technological grace. As breezy as I've tried to make this guide, database relationships and their intricacies can tie us up in knots faster than a squirrel securing its lunch.

But fear not! This is where a SmartSuite consultant, like yours truly, steps in—you can bet your best mouse-clicker we'll hash out those challenges, designing architectures with the flexibility of a gymnast and the strength of an ox, meeting your needs now and in the future.

Happy SmartSuiting!

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